NAMIBIA: CROPPING/NBC/30/1/18 SABANews 1
WINDHOEK – Authorities in NAMIBIA say they are ready to deal with any possible outbreak of the dreaded fall armyworm that has devastated crops in other AFRICAN nations.
The Chief Agricultural Scientific Officer at the Department of Plant Health Control has told NBC News field operatives will be using THREE different types of pesticides to destroy the insects.
EDDIE HASHEELA says they will further strengthen the campaign by reinforcing the chemicals with equipment that is able to trap the fast-moving worms on a large scale.
He says the agricultural workers will employ the traps to attract the male worms in areas where people will have spotted them, and their destruction will disturb their reproduction.
Mr HASHEELA predicts another outbreak of the Fall Armyworm when rainfall increases as weather experts have forecast, but says he is optimistic no major damage will befall crops in the SADC country.
The new move against armyworms this year comes after the previous season witnessed a massive invasion of fields by great swarms of the caterpillars.
NBC News says they caused havoc in most of the northern and north-eastern areas of NAMIBIA, where they destroyed crops and left families without enough food.
However, it also quotes Mr HASHEELA as saying the country will not be able to eradicate the caterpillars overnight; hence, there is need to prepare to battle the armyworms for a few more years.
He has called on farmers to acquire the necessary pesticides and spray them while the worms are still young, in order to stop them from developing resistance to the chemicals as they grow.
In another development, the authorities say they can now test all genetically modified organisms entering NAMIBIA as part of food products, to verify their safety for human consumption.
NBC News says the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology has opened a laboratory for the testing of such products before they reach the market.
Commission Board Chairperson NORTIN TITUS says the laboratory will serve as a means to ensure genetically modified organisms traded in NAMIBIA conform to specifications.
Higher Education Research and Innovation Director LISHO MUNDIA has launched the laboratory at a ceremony in the capital, WINDHOEK, saying it is vital for such a facility in a developing country.
He says the lab, completed last year, will ensure safety of GMOs to human and animal life as well as environmental protection; and it will be a research and training facility in different fields.
The expert says NAMIBIA had all along relied on foreign centres and expertise to test genetically modified organisms, but the country decided to have its own laboratory FOUR years ago – when construction began./Sabanews/cam